Despite being one of the top trombonists in New Orleans from the 1950s on, Bob Havens only recorded two albums as a leader before the '90s. Both sets (originally cut for Southland) are reissued in full on this single CD from 1995. The earlier session is quite notable for having brilliant interplay between two trumpeters (Mike Lala and Tommy Gonsoulin) that results in a great deal of excitement in the ensembles. Also in Havens' band are either Raymond Burke or Harry Shields on clarinet, Armand Hug on piano, Joe Capraro on guitar and banjo, Pinky Waddington or Emile Christian on bass, and Monk Hazel on drums. Each of the numbers has plenty of spirit, with "When You Wore a Tulip," "Sweetheart of Sigma Chi," and "Who's Sorry Now" taking honors. The 1964 set matches Havens (who takes three decent vocals) with the underrated trumpeter Thomas Jefferson, clarinetist Louis Cottrell, Chink Martin on tuba, and bass plus Hug, Capraro and Hazel again. This session (which includes fine versions of such numbers as "At the Jazz Band Ball," "Sidewalks of New York," and "Sensation") is almost up to the same level as the first. This generous disc is highly recommended to trad jazz fans.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow